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Re: birds are birds, dogs are dogs
This is just a semantic discussion. If dinosaurs are living today, the world
languages would have a different name for them. We wouldnt use the same word
for a hummingbird and a bronto, by the same way we do'nt have a word for
describe hippos and bats. (OK, we can call them mammals, but mammal is a
scientifical word, not a common word). I agree with Keesey's point of view.
T.Mike Keesey wrote:
<<These aesthetic arguments seem to often ignore one thing: terms like
"scorpionfly" and "cockroach" (and "fish" in the common "cows are fish"
argument) are vernacular, and the definitions are mandated by common usage
among all speakers of English. Terms like "Mecoptera" and "Blattaria" (and
"Vertebrata" [and "Dinosauria"]) are non-vernacular, scientific terms, and
the definitions are mandated by taxonomists (English-speaking or not).>>>>
By the same way, "dinosaur" was a scientific term coined to described "giant
prehistoric lizards". To include birds we'd have to create a new word. This
is the "semantical" solution, not the zoological "solution". As we know that
all animals evolve, we can consider tetrapods as "terrestrial fishes", or
birds as "flying dinosaurs", or snakes as "no-legged lizards". But it's a
scientific assumption, not a popular, vernacular concept.
----- Original Message -----
From: King, Norm R <NKing@usi.edu>
Sent: Friday, December 01, 2000 2:35 PM
Subject: birds are birds, dogs are dogs
> >From earlier postings:
> ><I am already having people deride me for calling birds
> > "living dinosaurs." One person just came into my
> > office, dropped the magazine on my desk with the page
> > turned to Gould's article, and then left in disgust. Help!>
> >That said, I admit that I too have problems with Birds
> >Are Dinosaurs. It's just, it's just ... just ... _wrong_.
> >Isn't it, though?
> This is another of those discussions that never seems to get resolved. It
> is phylogenetically correct to call dogs epitheres. So, should I tell
> everyone I have two epitheres? Of course not--they're dogs, stupid!
> is right, we shouldn't call them wolves, either, because they are known as
> dogs, and that is their most precise label (ignoring breeds for the
> Why go to a more inclusive designation, whatever it might be? Likewise,
> I owned a canary, I should not tell people I have a dinosaur. It's a
> I've ranted about this before, as some old-timers on the list may
> I think we need to use the labels that have precise meaning to people.
> Otherwise we can expect unfavorable reactions. As for birds, realization
> that they are in the dinosaur clade has changed nothing relative to
> conventions. After all, people who think birds are descended from a more
> basal kind of archosaur, such as pseudosuchians, have never, to my
> knowledge, asserted we should call birds pseudosuchians.
> Too many of us are over-impressed with our arcane knowledge, and take
> opportunity to flaunt it to our non-academic friends, neighbors, and
> associates, as if it is some kind of inside joke that they are too simple
> understand. It's a form of social intimidation. I think the birds as
> dinosaurs bit even has some shock value, because it does fly in the face
> conventional understanding. That makes it even more fun to get in
> Call a bird a bird, so we will all know what you're talking about. Is it
> also a dinosaur, at a less precise level of labeling? Of course, but we
> shouldn't be striving for reduction of precision and increase in
> and then berate the people who are getting confused. A dog is a dog, even
> though it is also an epithere and eupelycosaur (as someone suggested
> Call it a dog, so we'll know what you're talking about!